If you are a regular visitor to my sites you have likely noticed that a couple of months ago things got much faster. You may be thinking that I finally went to my server and hit the turbo button, but not so. I had been hosting all of my sites on Dreamhost. They had a ridiculous deal for a year of hosting and I took advantage of it. There was a lot I really like about Dreamhost. Their web interface is really nice, better than most. Their directory structure that they lay out for you is sensible and very workable. All in, the service is pretty good.
However, I was having horrible problems with performance. I would go for hours on end where my site would take 4 to 6, or even 10 seconds to respond. That's just running standard WordPress and even with the wp-cache plugin enabled. The culprit always seemed to be one of two things -- really slow MySQL response times or, even worse, slow file I/O times to get at your own home directory. Enough is enough and I decided to move hosting providers.
I did a lot of research and decided I wanted to move away from a shared hosting provider like Dreamhost. They all over-subscribe their service, it's the only way they can give those unbelievably cheap prices. Instead I decided to look for a virtual private server provider. After looking around for a while I found something I had never seen before, a hosting company that had nothing but good feedback from everyone.
A couple of days later I signed up on Slicehost and purchased my first slice. I chose a Ubuntu 7.1 image and after a couple of hours following their extremely well written documentation I was up and running. As an added bonus, I even learned things doing this.
I've now been using Slicehost for over a couple of months and I can't say enough good things about them. The service is stunning, and the move to a virtual private server has given me some great other benefits. For example, my slice is now backed up every day as a virtual server. If something bad happens, I can click a couple of buttons in the panel and have my server back the way it was in no time.
If you're looking for a provider, and are willing to roll your sleeves up, Slicehost may be the way for you.